Bad Hamlet

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Editorial Review

'Bad Hamlet': The Play's the Thing x 2

Admit it: You've been meaning to compare and contrast the 1623 Folio version of "Hamlet" with the 1603 "bad" quarto for years, right?

Rest easy. With "Bad Hamlet," the Adequate Players have done it for you, cutting Shakespeare's long tragedy down to an hour yet taking the whole thing seriously. How, you ask? Two actors play Hamlet simultaneously -- and there are two Ophelias, two of Laertes, etc. Where the scripts tally, the lines are the same: both melancholy Danes mutter the familiar "thy name is woman" and "the play's the thing," for instances, but otherwise differences are indeed highlighted in John Geoffrion's side-by-side edit.

Despite subtle clues here and there in the traditional black costuming, it takes a bit of effort to keep the dueling editions straight, so this is an awful place for "Hamlet" newbies to start. Nor is the earnestly acted show a nuanced consideration of the implications on character and theme -- but that's OK. Geoffrion isn't out to scramble your sense of "Hamlet"; he just wants you to sample the variations, and this lickety-split demo does the trick.

-- Nelson Pressley